Courage for a True Adventurer
I must admit that Patrick impressed me with the way he found himself in the Polish reality. The decision to start life in a European country like Poland was, in my opinion, very brave. This was no ordinary trip from one state to another, or even a trip to Canada bordering the US. I would rather compare Patrick’s ‘Polish Adventure’ to ‘BUNGEE JUMP Over the Ocean’.
Civilizationally the same countries, culturally, habitually similar cause Americans are a pluralistic national-state community of immigrant origin. Due to the specific migration history of its creation, it has a mixed, mainly European origin. According to one of the rankings, the citizens of this country declared the origin of their ancestors mainly from: Germany, Ireland, England, Italy, Poland, France, Scotland. So, in a sense, customs, culture and tradition were transferred to the American soil along with the migration of the population. Of course, over the centuries, these national differences have been blurred. People assimilated creating a nation with its own language, culture, customs, etc.
Looking from this perspective, it can be said that Patrick returned to the European continent where his ancestors probably come from, but definitely the roots of his family do not reach the country on the Vistula (as Poland is popularly called). A member of the European Union located in Central Europe where the official language is Polish, where only 30 – 38% of Poles declare that they know English well enough to communicate with a foreigner. For an American who had never been to this part of Europe, did not know the language, culture or people, it was a real challenge. A real “bungee jump”!
Ah, the Polish language… It’s a real challenge not only for foreigners, but also for the native Poles themselves who also have many problems with it, both with the correct pronunciation and spelling. Of course, at first Patrick didn’t understand anything, but he understood that his Polish, which he learned in Idaho via Duolingo, repeating phrases like “Elephant drinks milk” would not help him in conversation with Poles. It was necessary to find another simple and quick way to learn Polish language.
What can I say, such an opportunity arose very quickly because the next day after arriving in Poland, I took Patrick to Zakopane. We went by bus with a group of my friends, avid adventurers for the weekend to the capital of the Tatra Mountains.
It turned out that during this six-hour journey, several excellent teachers taught Patrick very quickly the basic phrases used during common feasting, such as: “pour”, “cheers”, “let’s have one more”. This method for mastering Polish brought much more effective results than tedious, many-week learning with Duolingo.
Polish style of traveling … It has no equal. The first group trip to Zakopane must have been a complete surprise for Patrick. Although mentally Patrick was focused on spending time with a group of people, and not solo as before but still, this trip provided him with a large dose of humor and positive adrenaline. Because the bus was not ordinary. It was an extraordinary bus with broken air-conditioning, with a leaky roof vent through which rain poured inside during a storm, so the careful passengers spread umbrellas to keep them from getting wet and had a great time traveling like this.
There is no free piss …. Every country has its customs. If you want to use a free toilet in Poland, it is only at gas stations, rest areas popularly known as MOPs, shopping centers or when you are a customer of a restaurant. You have to pay to use the restrooms elsewhere. Patrick felt these rules on his own skin, and more precisely on his own bladder on the third day of his stay in Poland, when a perky highlander in one of the shelters on the trail told him “Peeing at my place costs 2 zlotys.”
Stock up on pennies… Poles love pennies. In every shop, when paying in cash, e.g. . is a key sentence that Patrick perfectly remembered while shopping in one of the stores. At first, he didn’t really know what the nice lady at the cash desk meant when he handed her a 100 zloty banknote. The lady was more interested in the ending, i.e. pennies, than a larger denomination banknote. “What’s wrong”, he asked me surprised and surprised .. ” Nothing,” I replied, amused. “This lady is asking you for a penny because she needs 76 pennies to give you 50 zlotys.” Then I took out the pennies and handed them over with a 100 zloty bill.
Polish cuisine…. If you ask an average foreigner what dishes he associates with Polish cuisine, he will probably answer: dumplings, gołąbki, bigos, schabowy, sour soup, flaki. Patrick also had such an idea about Polish cuisine. Many times during our conversations, when he was still in Challis and I in Strzelin, we talked about what we ate for lunch, breakfast or dinner and how it was prepared, but it wasn’t tripe or bigos which turned out to be a real challenge for him that he had to be measured in Poland, and cottage cheese with jam and lard!!!
During one of the first dinners, I asked Patrick if he wanted to eat bread with white cheese and jam for dinner. He didn’t answer, but his expression was not very enthusiastic.
“And what is white cheese,” Pat pondered.
“Plain white cheese,” I replied.
“But not cottage cheese,” he asked again.
Hhhhhhh I thought why is he so inquisitive with this cheese. It’s white cheese that you can even cut with a knife.
“Look,” I said, serving on a plate of dark bread with white cheese and jam. “This is really good.”
Then I wished Patrick a tasty meal and started to eat. While I ate, Patrick looked at the sandwich slowly, then took a very light bite of the bread and started chewing, even more slowly.
”Is there something wrong with this bread?” I asked.
“No, it’s fine, but that cheese on bread is cottage cheese”, Pat said.
At first I didn’t understand why Patrick was so interested in white cheese until he finally ate the sandwich, telling me that he had never liked cottage cheese since he was a child and that the version I served him was that cheese he disliked. He had a similar culinary experience at the Museum of the Kashubian Countryside in Kluki, when I ordered a traditional Polish delicacy, i.e. a sandwich with country lard and pickled cucumber. He ate it, but he certainly did not become a fan of this speciality.
From the perspective of the time that has passed since Patrick’s arrival to Poland and his new life, which he started, I must admit that he coped very well both in terms of physical and mental acclimatization. Patrick Taylor was very quickly accepted by my family, friends and acquaintances as well as the inhabitants of Strzelin. He became part of our community. They know Patrick not only from Facebook, but above all from everyday direct contacts on the street, in the store, etc.
He loves talking to “girls from the grocery store”. The manager of the grocery market is his friend with whom Pat greets “Hi Boss!!! What’s up”, and Andrzej from another market sees Patrick on a good morning and says “Hello Mr. Taylor what do you need” and guys on the corner, who have probably never been abroad in their lives, greet Patrick in a truly Italian style “BONGIORNO”. He is also known by an old lady whom we sometimes pass on the street, exchanging friendly smiles, and although Pat still has problems with the language, his Polish has positive energy it sends to people and makes this non-verbal communication take on a special character to overcome language barriers.
I guess Patrick’s friends and acquaintances were rather sceptical at first about the idea of starting a life in another country on another continent, but now they have to admit that “Taylor is very lucky”!! He not only decided to return from the wilderness to civilization, but he did it in great style and in his way. He bungee-jumped across the ocean and landed even softly.
He could never had landed so softly or progressed as quickly if you weren’t there to catch him when he landed. Thank you for the love you show my brother Ela, you are a very special person that has also made friends and gained family across the ocean.
Thank you Frank for what you wrote. This means a lot to me.I gained a wonderful family and friends across the ocean